Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rumors and Lies from the Right-Wing Spin Machine

Some folks on the right never tire of ferreting out the sneaky radicals and enemies among us. The latest target of such an attack is Sen. Barack Obama, junior senator for Illinois and Presidential hopeful.

Sen. Obama, it turns out, was a schoolboy in Indonesia, where he reportedly attended a "madrassa," a Muslim religious school. This report first surfaced in INSIGHT magazine, a publication funded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who also owns the Washington Times. The magazine also reported that the madrassa story came from Obama's Democratic opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton, though it provided no source or other evidence for this claim.

Well, of course. If Obama is a secret Muslim radical and Hillary's behind this bit of dirt, INSIGHT scores a "two-fer"—smearing two candidates with one outrageous charge.

And it is outrageous, as several more credible news sources such as CNN have now demonstrated. Obama's Indonesian school was not a religious school, much less a madrassa. Moreover, Obama was a child at the time and is a professed Christian and a member of a Chicago church. Finally, there's no evidence that Hillary Clinton or anyone on her behalf was behind this report.

But in right-wing spin circles, the facts rarely slow down the talkers. So the madrassa charge quickly made the rounds, and the usual suspects spouted off: Rush Limbaugh, of course, Glenn Beck, and our old friends and "fair and balanced" Fox News. But even Fox couldn't sustain the rumor for long, and has now issued what some on the left have called "a non-apology apology."

All of which points to a continuing problem with some right-wingers: Putting ideology first, the facts be damned. This time they got caught.

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